Peo­ple de­serve a re­li­able ferry ser­vice

The Beacon (Gander) - - Editorial -

So, the govern­ment spends $100 mil­lion on two boats for Fogo Is­land. Then, more mil­lions to retro­fit docks in the cove and on the Bell Is­land beach for what­ever boat is not in use.

Now, I would have fig­ured if the two posh boats were for Fogo, they would just have them op­er­at­ing in Fogo right? But no, the crap would hit the fan then, wouldn’t it. So, they say they are go­ing to pro­vide Bell Is­land with a lap-of-lux­ury ferry ser­vice that they can en­joy, while Fogo has no need for it. How nice of ’em, right?

I re­ally don’t re­call folks on the is­land say­ing they wanted a fan­cy­pantsy boat, with lux­ury lounges and all that crap. Hell, most just want to sit in their car and re­lax for 20 min­utes till they get to the other side. Am I right? Have a place to sit your butt down if you are a walk-on, and a bath­room that works in case you got busi­ness to do.

Oh, the is­lan­ders did ask that boat/boats be re­li­able. Re­li­able mean­ing that they could ac­tu­ally run at least two weeks with­out shut­ting down for some stupid rea­son or other. You wouldn’t think that would be too much to ask for. Right or wrong — I ask you?

Then the govern­ment finds out that the $100-mil­lion lemons that they pur­chased for Fogo are go­ing to cost mil­lions more when they have to duct-tape the boats up. They are forced to take one boat com­pletely out of ser­vice. How long did you have it, Bell is­land? A month? OK, close enough.

It can’t be cheap hous­ing $50-mil­lion worth of steel in the har­bour. Sit­ting there and do­ing noth­ing but rust. It’s not bring­ing in any rev­enue at all, which is lost dol­lars added to the ever-grow­ing bill while wait­ing for some part or other. If it were a cow, sure, it would be meat on some­body’s ta­ble right now. If it can’t bring in the dough, it gotta go, right?

So, back on Bell Is­land, they have two boats. Two boats! You would think they got it made, sure. They are pretty enough for the is­lan­ders: a deck to hold the ve­hi­cles, equipped with a lounge if one wishes to use it and, yes, a bath­room. Now, the bath­rooms and lounge may not be all that grand, but hey, who needs grand? Just get folks off and on the is­land so they can work. So em­ploy­ers will hire them. So they can pay taxes. So they can bring the rev­enue in for the ser­vice and do their part to jus­tify the ser­vice.

If both boats ran on a con­sis­tent ba­sis, the is­lan­ders and the govern­ment would have it made.

Heck no! With the boats break­ing down, you can’t even count on a run two days straight at this point. With the crew strug­gling to meet the de­mands of the is­lan­ders, and also to get their fair work­ing con­di­tions, these boats are sit­ting still in the wa­ter more of­ten than not. Bell Is­lan­ders can­not get to their jobs. Some may be fired for lack of re­li­a­bil­ity. Many are never even hired for the same rea­son. Un­em­ploy­ment rises on the is­land. So­cial as­sis­tance rises on the is­land. Not even go­ing to get into how the govern­ment pro­vided mil­lions of dol­lars to help tourism, yet no re­li­able ferry ser­vice to get tourists there and home again.

Now that’s just a web of fi­nan­cial bur­den on the govern­ment’s pock­et­book. You would agree, right? But whose fault is that?

The govern­ment likes to blame it on the is­lan­ders. I don’t think one has to be a rocket sci­en­tist to say they are wrong.

Jacqueline Young Kitch­ener, Ont. Orig­i­nally from Bell Is­land

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